Washington Nationals Recap: Nats Start Spring On Right Note With Win Over Rays

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Feb 23, 2016; Viera, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Joe Ross (41) and head coach Dusty Baker talk during a work out at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 23, 2016; Viera, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Joe Ross (41) and head coach Dusty Baker talk during a work out at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Nats began their spring schedule today with a 6-2 win over the Rays thanks to a Scott Sizemore three-run home run in the sixth. 

Today, the Washington Nationals got their 2016 Spring Training schedule underway when they took on the Tampa Bay Rays down in Port Charlotte, Florida. Tanner Roark and Joe Ross each got to pitch in this game as the Nats defeated the Rays by a final score of 6-2 on a day where hardly any regulars were in the starting lineup.

In his start, Roark went two innings, gave up no runs on one hit, struck out three, and walked one. The right-hander was able to get out of a jam in the bottom of the first when the Rays had runners at the corners by getting Desmond Jennings to ground out to second. After giving up a leadoff single to James Loney in the second, Roark struck out the side (two swinging strikeouts) to end his day.

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The Nats would score first in the top of the third inning against Rays’ pitcher Enny Romero (starter Jake Odorizzi threw a 1-2-3 first inning). With one out, Difo singled to center and Matt den Dekker reached on an error by second baseman Nick Franklin. The Rays tried to pick off den Dekker at first with Tyler Moore up, but catcher Curt Casali threw it into right field, which allowed Difo to score.

Tampa Bay would get those two runs back in the bottom of the inning against Ross. Difo made his second error of the game with one out, which allowed Kevin Kiermaier to reach base. Three batters later, with runners on the corners, Jennings hit a two-run double to left center to give the Rays a 2-1 lead. As for Ross, he went two innings, gave up the two unearned runs, struck out one, and walked one batter.

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Washington’s offense would get the lead back in the sixth. With one out, Matt Skole singled to left and Tony Campana drew a walk. Even though Skole was thrown out at home on a base hit by Reed Johnson, the Nats would still score three runs against Blake Snell when Scott Sizemore hit a three-run home run off the batter’s eye in center to give the Nats a 4-2 lead. Sizemore was the only Nats’ hitter who ha two hits in the game as he also had an infield single in the eighth.

One inning later, the Nats would score two more runs against Taylor Guerrieri. Jhonatan Solano led off with a double and Brendan Ryan reached on an infield single. Then, Chris Bostick drove in Solano with a base hit to center. Two batters later, Skole drove in Ryan with a RBI groundout to first to increase the Nats’ lead to 6-2.

Even though there were some defensive issues today, the Nats’ pitchers were able to hold the Rays’ offense in check for most of the game. Sammy Solis, Rafael Martin, Matt Grace, Austin Voth, and Erik Davis combined to throw five scoreless innings, give up five hits, and strike out nine batters in the win.

Next: District Daily: Zimmerman Taking It Slow This Spring

Next Game: The Nationals will begin their home spring schedule tomorrow afternoon against the New York Mets (1:05 PM ET, NO TV). Max Scherzer is scheduled to start for the Nats against Rafael Montero for the Mets. According to William Ladson of MLB.com, Scherzer is scheduled to throw two innings or 35 pitches.

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